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The Speculator

1852 Francis William Edmonds Born: Hudson, New York 1806 Died: Bronxville, New York 1863 oil on canvas 25 1/8 x 30 1/8 in. (63.7 x 76.4 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Ruth C. and Kevin McCann in affectionate memory of Dwight David Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States 1976.114 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, South Wing


Gallery Label

A rural couple listens skeptically to a representative of the Building Association, identified by the paper in his coat pocket. The salesman—whose top hat, pointed shoes, and umbrella mark him as a city slicker—promises the couple a better life as he unrolls a listing of "1000 Valuable Lots on Rail Road Ave." Francis William Edmonds's comic genre scenes captured the rough-and-tumble of America's frontiers. Democracy meant opportunity for all, and there were plenty of opportunities to fleece the unwary in settlements governed by few laws. Land speculators flourished as the railroads raced West and small towns dreamed of growing into great cities.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006

Research Notes

Read research notes for The Speculator. (pdf)

Keywords

Architecture Interior - domestic - kitchen

Figure group

Occupation - domestic - cooking

Occupation - monetary - investor

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Francis William Edmonds

Born: Hudson, New York 1806 Died: Bronxville, New York 1863